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Simon K Jones
Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683
- Title: Soul Searcher
- Director: Neil Oseman
- Cast: Ray Bullock Jnr., Katrina Cooke, Jonny Lewis, A.J. Nicol
- Running time: 98 minutes
- Cert: 12 (UK)
- Release: Out now (available from Play.com)
Soul Searcher is a micro-budget independent fantasy film that follows young streetsweeper Joe Fallow (Ray Bullock Jnr.) after he accidentally encounters the Grim Reaper (Jonny Lewis) and is enlisted to fight the forces of evil. Balancing his new demon-fighting duties with his love for local barmaid Heather (Katrina Cooke) proves difficult for Joe, especially once undead malcontent Dante (A.J. Nicol) starts to unleash the forces of Hades on an unsuspecting British town.
It's an ambitious story to tell in a low-budget indie flick, which aren't generally known for their apocalyptic visual effects and martial arts action sequences. That Soul Searcher should work at all is remarkable; to be this good is approaching miraculous. Director Neil Oseman has pulled together a talented cast and crew, defied all budgetary limitations and crafted an entertaining and high quality movie that sits perfectly comfortably among other genre movies that enjoyed vastly bigger budgets.
Key to this success is the movie's clear love of adventure and genre movies from the 1980s. The nostalgic vibe helps paper over some of the cracks in the effects and harks back to a particularly inventive decade for genre filmmaking. At its best, Soul Searcher feels like the perfect blend of Back to the Future, Ghostbusters and Highlander (with a generous twist of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Rather than simply being a weak rip-off or jumbled collage, Soul Searcher rises above homage to create its own compelling story and style.
Of all the movie's achievements, its greatest is surely the brilliant use of miniDV, which has never looked this good. Soul Searcher is the ultimate evidence that lighting is the secret to professional, cinematic visuals and that even a DV camera can capture beautiful, filmic images when operated by by the right people.
Tradition dictates that low-budget DVD releases suffer from sparse extra material. After all, when a production barely has enough funds to be completed, there's rarely any time or money left for anything else. Once again, Oseman and his team defy expectations by delivering a myriad of featurettes that delve into specifics such as the lighting, martial arts and miniature work, plus commentaries from the cast and crew.
Best of all is a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary that chronicles the entire production, from 2002 until the movie's premiere in 2005. It's a brutally honest and, at times, painful account of the difficult realities inherent to independent filmmaking, including the early, failed development phase when all seemed lost.
There's nothing glossy or showbiz about the filmmaking portrayed here: it shows it how it is. As a result, it will inspire some and terrify others. As both a movie and a DVD release, Soul Searcher is a grand success which shows that determination and talent can overcome just about any budgetary hurdle. As such, it's highly recommended viewing for all.
Win a copy!
We've got a few copies of Soul Searcher to give away, thanks to Neil and his distribs over at Wysiwyg Films. If you'd like to win a copy, all you have to do is answer the following question:
Which band performed the 1970s classic song 'Don't Fear The Reaper'?
Email your answer to COMPETITION NOW CLOSED.
Rules and regs: It wouldn't be a proper competition without some rules! So here we go: 1. Soul Searcher features some fiendish demons, so you have to be 12 or over to enter. Tell us your date of birth in your email, or else. 2. These DVDs are region 2, so make sure your DVD player can handle it. 3. Don't forget to include your home mail address, as DVDs can't be sent by email. 4. All entries must be received by 25th June 2007.